Shelly Leer points to each chair as we walk around her South Broad Ripple studio. “He’s working on his Ph.D. right now, and this is his first. This one — she’s a perfectionist,” she adds, before making her way around the other 20-some chairs.
No one sits in the chairs; in fact, we are the only two people here. Apparently, though, you can tell a lot about people by the way they upholster a chair.
Leer is the founder and sole instructor of Mod Home Ec, a furniture studio near the Monon Trail. In addition to running the studio, Leer is a contributor to popular design websites such as ApartmentTherapy.com and Curbly.com, and The Star’s Home & Garden section.
Interested in hands-on creativity for as long as she can remember, Leer began her business as a way to make extra money as a stay-at-home mom.
After 15 years of doing custom upholstery work, Leer decided to go back to her teaching roots (she has a B.S. in textiles and design education from Butler University) and began offering upholstery classes in her basement in 2009.
But, she said, “I needed a place where we wouldn’t be crawling on top of one another and smelling my husband cooking beef stroganoff for dinner.”
In January, Leer opened her new studio, hosting a variety of classes (sewing, upholstery, etc.) that range in duration from a few hours to six weeks.
Thinking about reupholstering that old chair Grandma gave you? Leer says bring it on. If you don’t have your own furniture, she’ll set you up with something. Or, scour garage or estate sales and stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army.
And don’t worry about being an expert.
“It’s OK not to be perfect the first time,” she said. “Best-case scenario, you end up with a great new piece of furniture for your home. Worst case you take it to Goodwill and can say you had the experience.”
Info: 1101 E. 54th St., www.modhomeec.com.